Working with the McGruff Campaign
In 1979, many Americans thought they could do little about crime. Most viewed crime as inevitable and its prevention as the job of the police. Today, more than three out of four Americans believe they personally can take actions to reduce crime, and that their neighborhoods and communities can act to prevent crime.
A major force behind this shift to a more positive attitude is the National Citizens' Crime Prevention Campaign, a coordinated effort to prevent crime and build safer, better communities. The campaign is symbolized by McGruff, the Crime Dog, and the "Take A Bite Out Of Crime" slogan. Since 1980, McGruff has been educating and exhorting Americans through such avenues as public service advertising, educational films and videos, brochures, posters, booklets, and personal appearances.
Market and survey research reveal that:
99% of children ages six to twelve recognize McGruff.
Over the years, thanks to the efforts of local crime prevention practitioners, McGruff has appeared at a multitude of events across the country. He's been to schools, hospitals, shopping malls, rodeos, fairs, and parades. His image appears on T-shirts, mugs, stickers, football cards, caps, billboards, and more. But everywhere, his message; that responsible action, both by individuals and by groups, can "Take A Bite Out Of Crime" and his advice on how to do so are the keys to his effectiveness.
An astonishing 97% of children ages six to twelve said that they would try to do what McGruff tells them.
Seven out of ten adults know him.
Nine out of ten teens and seven out of ten adults who know McGruff believe he is effective in communicating crime prevention information and trust him as a source of crime prevention information.
Nine of ten community crime prevention professionals report that McGruff helps them do their jobs more effectively.
McGruff has appeared in Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, Weekly Reader, Parade, Mini-Page, The New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, McCall's, Time, and Smithsonian, to name just a few national publications.
McGruff is extremely popular and versatile, but he never forgets his prime mission enabling people and communities to prevent crime and improve the quality of life for themselves, their families, friends, and neighborhoods.
Description of the McGruff Truck Program
The widespread recognition of the McGruff symbol makes McGruff Truck and McGruff House highly effective. Having a symbol children readily recognize that identifies sources of help provides nationwide consistency.
Making neighborhoods safer for children is the goal of the McGruff Truck Program. It provides a way for utility companies to offer help in emergency situations to anyone, especially young people. A McGruff Truck is easy to spot as it uses the image of McGruff, the well-known Crime Dog, on strategically placed decals to identify utility vehicles that children or others can turn to for help.
The message of the McGruff Truck Program is, "We'll call for help". The driver is trained to summon appropriate help when flagged down by a child or individual in distress. McGruff Truck drivers are trained to call for help immediately and have direct access to two-way communication.
A McGruff Truck is easy to spot. The McGruff Truck symbol is placed on the front and rear sections of the utility vehicles. It identifies utility service vehicles and their drivers as sources for help when someone is in trouble. When a McGruff Truck is seen in the community, residents know that the people in it can get help for anyone, especially children.
Participating in the McGruff Truck Program offers both a valuable public service and an opportunity to build good will in the community. To protect this, NMHN carefully screens each company that applies to participate and requires endorsement letters from agencies familiar with the company's operation and reputation in the community. The company's chief executive must sign a formal Memorandum of Understanding with NMHN confirming compliance with all requirements.
Who can operate a McGruff Truck Program?
Only a publicly owned, publicly regulated, publicly franchised, or government regulated utility company whose vehicles are identified by the company's logo and have immediate direct access to two-way communication (e.g., cellular phone, two-way radio) can be eligible as a McGruff Truck participant. Participating companies must agree to operate the program in accordance with standard requirements established by the National McGruff House Network (NMHN).
What is a McGruff Truck?
A McGruff Truck is a utility vehicle whose specially trained crew agree to summon appropriate assistance for children or others in temporary need. McGruff Trucks are identified by the company's logo and McGruff Truck decals located on the front and rear sections.
Who can be a McGruff Truck driver or crew member?
Participating utility companies agree to place on McGruff Trucks only those employees who meet the company's most stringent standards for potentially sensitive contacts with the public. In addition, all McGruff Truck drivers and crew members receive training in appropriate ways to respond to requests for help. That training is renewed annually.
What is a McGruff Truck driver expected to do?
When a child approaches a McGruff Truck driver for help, the driver will:
- Stop, go to the child
- Find out what the problem is
- Reassure the child if he/she is frightened
- Call the company's dispatcher or the appropriate public-safety agency to:
- describe the situation, location, and condition of the child,
- describe any vehicles involved, and
- identify the type of help needed;
- Stay with the child until help arrives;
- Complete and file a McGruff Truck incident report.
A McGruff Truck driver does not:
- Administer first aid unless in extreme emergencies and if otherwise qualified; Administer medicines of any kind;
- Provide transportation or place the child in the truck;
- Act as a peacekeeper or law enforcement officer;
- Make guarantees for the child's safety;
- Approach a child unless he/she clearly is in trouble.
How does someone get help?
Children are trained to wave both arms above their heads to indicate that help is needed. If they simply want to wave "hello" to a McGruff Truck driver, they are instructed to hold one arm behind their backs and wave with the other. In this way, a casual wave is not mistaken for a request for help, and a request for help conveys the appropriate urgency.
Benefits of the McGruff Truck Program
Benefits for the community
Children, our most precious resource, deserve our protection. Participating in the McGruff Truck Program is an investment in safeguarding our communities' and nation's futures. It enhances and contributes to a community's efforts to prevent crime and provide a safer, more caring environment for all its residents, especially children.
The McGruff Truck Program provides children with an added measure of security. It lets them know that while they must be cautious with strangers, they have a way to identify people in a McGruff Truck who, though unknown to them, can be counted on to help them in an emergency.
Feeling secure is a prerequisite to children's ability to learn and develop. By providing a safety network for children, utility companies can contribute to their well-being.
Benefits for the company
It is difficult to measure directly the impact of public relations and community service programs on a company's bottom line. Having a reputation for contributing in a variety of ways to the communities it serves benefits a company by:
Helping customers feel more satisfied about their relationship with the company; and
The McGruff Truck Program certainly meets customer- and employee-related objectives for the company. In many cases it formalizes or strengthens a service the company already provides to its communities.
Enhancing employee morale and work attitudes through positive and constructive interaction between customers and employees. It makes sense to contribute to the security of the area in which company employees live and work.
Many utility companies believe they should help the communities they serve in ways other than providing utility service. Their corporate cultures frequently promote a sense of civic responsibility among their employees. Because they provide basic, necessary services to their communities, they feel a sense of responsibility to the communities' well-being that sometimes surpasses that of other businesses.
Many utilities sponsor classroom educational programs about energy and utility services for schools in their service areas. This provides an opportunity for employees to interact with children in a comfortable setting. The McGruff Truck Program requires educational promotion to create awareness of the service it provides. As participating companies become associated with McGruff, his visibility and popularity enhance the visibility of the company as a concerned, committed community member.
Through workers' experience with utility watch and similar programs, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) believes that the presence of utility companies and employees in the community can deter crime. Combining that deterrent effect with widespread public awareness that the company has committed itself to helping protect children is part of McGruff Truck's strength.
HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL McGRUFF HOUSE NETWORK
November 5,1982 McGruff Safe House Program was launched by the Utah Hands-Up Office for the State of Utah.
1985 State of Washington began their McGruff House Program.
1986 Word "Safe" was deleted from the program title.
The McGruff Truck concept emerged. Northern States Power Company, which includes Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, began a McGruff Truck type of program, Safety Watch.
State of Washington passed a resolution supporting McGruff House as the preferred state symbol for block homes.
1987 Discussion regarding a national McGruff House/Truck program began.
Minnesota passed a law mandating that all block home programs in the state be McGruff House Programs.
In Utah, Mountain Fuel began its McGruff Truck Program.
1988 McGruff Truck pilot programs started.
In Hawaii, the McGruff Truck Program is operated as a partnership between the utility companies and the Hawaii Criminal Justice Commission. This partnership includes Hawaiian Electric, Hawaiian Telephone, Oceanic Cable, and The Gas Company.
In Minnesota, Minnegasco began its McGruff Truck type program, Safety Watch, in September with 900 vehicles participating in three states.
Utah passed a resolution in February supporting McGruff House as the preferred state symbol for block homes.
1989 Nebraska passed a resolution on May 11 supporting the McGruff House Program state wide.
Montana passed a resolution in February supporting the McGruff House Program state wide.
Virginia passed a law, which went into effect July 1, mandating all block house programs in the state to be McGruff House Programs.
Utah Power and Light and US West Communications joined Mountain Fuel in the McGruff Truck Program.
Michigan passed a law in June mandating all block house programs in the state to be McGruff House Programs.
Texas passed a law that allows law enforcement agencies to legally conduct background checks on McGruff House participants.
1990 Legislation is pending in Wisconsin for the McGruff House Program.
The National McGruff House Network- is licensed by the National Crime Prevention Council to coordinate the McGruff House and McGruff Truck Programs.
The McGruff House Program kit is revised to include more clearly defined mandatory standards and guidelines and improved educational materials.
1991 The McGruff Truck Program is offered to utility companies across the nation by request with standards and guidelines defined in the McGruff Truck Program Kit.
Check list for Parents
- Have you taken time to teach your child safety rules in a clear way that the child can understand?
- Do you have a family safety plan, including a family secret password?
- Could you give the police a complete description of your child -- a description so specific that the child would be immediately recognizable?
- (Do you keep a current photograph of your child on hand?)
- Do you know what your child was wearing when s/he left the house?
- Do you use check-in procedures so you always know where your child is?
- Do you know the neighbors who live around you?
- Do you know what a McGruff Truck is? Have you taught your child
how to flag one down if s/he needs help?
- Do you know the route(s) your child uses to get to and from school or their friends' homes?
- Have you taken a "safety walk" with your children over routes they
often travel to agree on preferred and alternate routes and hazards to be avoided?
- Can you describe to your child what a stranger is?
- Have you talked with your child about what to do if approached by a
stranger? Can your child explain it in his/her own words?
- Have you removed markings from your child's clothing that would
help someone know your child's name (name visible on shirt or
- Do you know the safety procedures for taking your children shopping
- Do you know your children's friends and their parents' names and
- Do you have current identifying information about each of your
children? Do you know where it is?
- Are there any McGruff Houses in your neighborhood? If so, have you
pointed them out to your child and told him/her how to use them?
Walk With Your Child
Parents should walk or ride their child's route(s) to and from school with them and point out:
Be sure your child knows:
- Any places the child should avoid such as deserted alleys or buildings, vacant lots, or recessed doorways.
- The McGruff House locations (if this block parent program is active in their community.)
- Use this walk as an opportunity to discuss all aspects of crime
prevention with the child. She/he should know that being alert, aware, and prepared is not the same as being frightened or careless.
- His/her full name and address, including city and state.
- His/her full telephone number, including area code.
- How to use the telephone, both push button and dial, to make local, long distance, and emergency calls, and to reach the operator.
- To always have 25 cents to use in a pay phone.
- To use the buddy system at play or going to and from school.
- That a stranger is someone you don't know.
- That if the child is being followed by a car or person on foot, she/he should flag down the nearest McGruff Truck or run to the nearest McGruff House (if this complementary program is available).
- Never to go anywhere with another adult, even one who says the parent has sent him/her unless permission was given beforehand. (Use a family "password" to be given by any non-family adult if they are to pick up your child. Teach the child that she/he must never tell this password to anyone else.)
- That harm can come from people they know, as well as strangers.
- Strangers often use enticements, asking children to help them find a lost puppy, offering to pay for a video game, or asking children to take a walk to "show" them something.
- That there are many adults children can trust and ask for help such as parents, school principal, teachers, family members, law enforcement officers, etc.
That you want to be told whenever anything happens that makes your child feel strange or "funny" in any way.
That you cannot be with your child at all times, and the child can help keep him/herself safe by always telling you when something is said or done that makes him/her feel uncomfortable.
The McGruff Truck Program and Your Revenue Protection Department can work together in very subtle ways. Not only is the McGruff Truck Program highly visible, but it makes a big impact on the protection of our communities children
By participating in the McGruff Truck Program your utility gains strong ties within the community and with local law enforcement agencies. This puts your Revenue Protection Department in a positive light with your customers as well as the local law enforcement.
For more information on how your company can get involved in the McGruff Truck Program contact:
Jack Monroe JLMONROE@smtp.santeecooper.com
Elizabeth Walker EWALKER@smtp.santeecooper.com
Mark Peterson MJPETERS@smtp.santeecooper.com
Please support their efforts to stop the pain for our future generations.
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